In this week's paper, I interviewed Elizabeth Cline, the author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, a heavily researched look into the environmental, ethical, economic, and cultural tolls of the western world's fast fashion habit—your Targets, your H&Ms, Forever 21s, etc. It's been causing quite a buzz in the independent fashion world, not only because it clearly documents the challenges and threats that face us—even those of us who make a point of not caring about fashion—but also because it points to the independent design movement as the way into the future. As she told me:
Americans used to strive to own the best clothes that they could for their money; they were very particular and proud of their appearance and their wardrobes. Today, people brag about owning cheap duds and think being anti-fashion is a solution to the problems I describe. I would love to see people buying less clothing and instead saving up to own pieces that are beautiful, well crafted, and ethically made. At the least, we need to be buying less and acknowledging that our clothing purchases matter.
Locally, PINO designer Crispin Argento was so struck after reading the book that he arranged to have Cline come out to give a presentation and lead a conversation with the thriving Portland community of designers (and those who love them). The event model that emerged isn't your typical free reading at Powell's, though. It's a Clyde Common-catered dinner and drinks at the Ace Cleaners, with an $85 ticket price that's generated its own buzz among a relatively modest-income crowd that is routinely "saving up to own pieces that are beautiful, well crafted, and ethically made," and therefore tend to be really careful with money. "Are you going?" has become the standard line of questioning. Everyone wants to, but inevitably a significant chunk of people are priced out. And understandably a lot people I've spoken to are still on the fence, but time is running out. The event takes place on Tuesday evening at 7 pm, but the last day to buy tickets is tomorrow (extended from the original deadline of today). Argento also included with the announcement of the extension a brief statement regarding the cost, which you can read after the cut.
First and foremost, we are getting really excited for Tuesday night! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a ticket and have committed to making Portland the leader in sustainable fashion.
Holly, Delia and myself recognize that as artists, students, designers and small-business owners, $85.00 (which covers our costs, we are happy to break it down if requested) may be financially burdensome.
However, we decided after much deliberation to host a cocktail and dinner party so guests can seriously engage with one another in an intimate setting to learn and grow, share stories, ideas and expertise, make new friends/business partners, and plant the seeds to finally develop the infrastructure needed to build and legitimize the Portland fashion industry. As I have remarked to many of you, "The Etsy days are over." We have to work together, collaborate and communicate.
We look forward to seeing you in a couple days and encourage you to wear your/Portland wares and represent Portland fashion design. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Tickets again, which include dinner and drinks, can be purchased at www.pinoportland.com/pdxundressed. We encourage you to read the book prior to coming, however signed copies will be available for purchase at the event.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!